For those of you avid golf watchers, you will no doubt have heard of the phrase ‘strokes gained’  This phrase first became popular when Mark Broadie released his must read book, Every Shot Counts. For those of you not familiar with Strokes Gained is is simply a way of analysing a players performance level when comparing every aspect of the performance with other players within a particular range. So it will measure the players performance taking into account, the hole length, shot length, lie, etc

Strokes Gained uses a simple formula to figure out if a shot was better or worse than average, and then how much better or worse it was, then it produces a + or – value for that shot. A positive number means the shot was better than average so you will have gained shots, a negative value means the shot was worse than average, for example if you compared your data to that of a professional you will see a lot of negative values. (just saying!)

Stats such as Fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per round are often used by golfers and whilst these stats are a great starting point, and if you are not collecting at least these at the moment then I highly suggest you start straight away, they can be a little restrictive in their analysis. For example, a golfer could miss a fairway by 1 yard, or hit it out of bounds or hit it into a water hazard, all of these in would go down as a missed fairway, when in reality certain shots are more costly to the golfer, and missing a fairway by a yard is certainly not one of them.

Also with strokes gained both accuracy and distance are taken into consideration so as to ensure each shot has its own unique value. So if a ball lands in the fairway but still leaving you an approach shot to the green of over 200 yards compared to a driver that is also in the fairway but leaving that player just a 100 yard approach shot, the value of the second one is greater. Every shot has its own unique value determined by, distance, accuracy, and location/lie type on the golf course.

Have a look at this example below.

Play A hits his tee shot on the fairway 185 yards away from the hole

Player B hits his tee shot in the rough but 85 yards away from the hole.


So using the strokes gained calculation-(starting position strokes gained-finishing position strokes gained) – 1 =strokes gained for that shot

So player a 3.99-3.18-1 = -0.19

And player b 3.99-2.91-1 = +0.08

Do remember this is only taking a look at the tee shot. If we look at a full hole you can see when combined together, certain areas of improvement for the golfer become highlighted.

A full round is calculated by each shot being added together to give an overall value for the round, the four areas are

Tee Shots

Approach Shots

Short Game


Now whilst strokes gained can seem complicated at first, systems like Arccos golf do all the hard work and equations for you. The path to greater improvement all starts with knowing your game and strokes gained will help you figure that out.



Ian Clark, Director of Instruction
0208 949 9200